The Doctor stood up and confirmed what the Senechal had said, went somewhat more into detail to substantiate his opinion, and ended by saying, “The head, as it happens, is less bruised than any other part of the body, except on the crown, and that is practically beaten in, and not, I am prepared to swear, by a fall. These wounds were the immediate cause of death, and they were made before he fell down the rocks. Besides, he went down feet first. The abrasions on the legs and thighs prove that beyond a doubt. Then again, the base of the skull is not fractured, as it most certainly would have been if he had fallen on his head. Death was undoubtedly the result of those wounds in the head. It is impossible for me to say for certain with what kind of weapon they were made, but it was probably something round and blunt.”
“Now,” said the Senechal, when the Doctor had finished, and the hum and the growl which followed had died down again, “will any of you who know anything about this matter come forward and tell us all you know?”
Stephen Gard stood up at once and all eyes settled on him. Then Peter Mauger was pushed along from the back, with friendly thumps and growling injunctions to speak up. But the looks bestowed on Gard were of quite a different quality from those given to Peter, and the men at the table could not but notice it.
“We will take Peter Mauger first. Let him be sworn,” said the Senechal, and Gard sat down.
The Greffier swore Peter in the old Island fashion—“Vous jurez par la foi que vous devez a Dieu que vous direz la verite, et rien que la verite, et tous ce que vous connaissez dans cette cause, et que Dieu vous soit en aide! (You swear by the faith which you owe to God that you will tell the truth, and only the truth, and all that you know concerning this case, and so help you God!)”
Peter put up his right hand and swore so to do.
“Now tell us all you know,” said the Senechal.
And Peter ramblingly told how he and Tom had been drinking together the night before, and how Tom had started off home and he had gone to bed.
“Were you both drunk?”
“Very well, you were. Did you think it right to let your friend go off in that condition when he had to cross the Coupee?”
“I’ve seen him worse, many times, and no harm come to him.”
“Well, get on!”
He told how Mrs. Tom woke him up in the morning, and how they had all gone in search of the missing man.
“Was it you that found him?”
“No, it was Charles Guille of Clos Bourel. But I found something too.”
“What was it?”
“This”—and from under his coat he drew out carefully the white stone with its red-brown spots, and from his pocket the button and the scrap of blue cloth. And those at the back stood up, with much noise, to see.
The men at the table looked at these scraps of possible evidence with interest, as they were placed before them.